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Complete As Human As to Breathe by Hijja - T

Discussion in 'Review Board' started by TallDarkStranger, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. TallDarkStranger

    TallDarkStranger Fourth Year

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    Title: As Human As To Breathe
    Author: Hijja
    Rating: T
    Genre: AU/General
    Status: Complete, 15k words
    Library Category: General
    Pairings: Albus Dumbledore/Gellert Grindelwald
    Summary: Step into a world where Ariana Dumbledore lived...
    Link: http://archiveofourown.org/works/76683

    Every so often, a reddit thread on "Your Favorite Unknown Story" brings up a fanfic that is not only actually known, but also pretty interesting.
    If you dislike slash, like I do, don't press Ctrl+W just yet - this story is slash only in name. There's no mention of romance, barely a few passing hints, and well worth it to not think twice about them because they don't matter.

    Enter an AU where Bathilda Bagshot comes to check on her nephew's activities, and barely manages to nullify the spell that would have otherwise killed Ariana Dumbledore. Without this stimulus, Albus is not the man we know him to be - the muggle loving, fearful-of-his-own-power Supreme Commander of the Light that we love and admire (or hate and resent, pick your poison). This story showcases 7 breaks in canon stations that shape AD into a different man, it would seem.

    Easy 4/5 for believable changes, -1 for the one seeming character break which sort of breaks immersion.

    What is that they say about every great magic trick again?
     
  2. Tenages

    Tenages Unspeakable DLP Supporter

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    This is excellent. One of the best I've read in a while and it makes it's way onto my favorite oneshots list. Dumbledore is handled excellently I thought.

    5/5
     
  3. startrekfan

    startrekfan Squib

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    Wouldn't you like to know...
    A oneshot like they are supposed to be, drawing you in, showing small glimpses and letting you fill in the rest.
    In my opinion the character of Dumbledore is handled exceptionally well, which is a rarity with such a complex character.
    This is one of the few realy well handled 'what if's and as such deserves in my opinion a place in the library.

    I cannot really find anyhing to criticize, and am therefore rating it 5/5.
     
  4. Lord Murtaza

    Lord Murtaza Squib

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    Few stories from the perspective of Albus Dumbledore ever get it right - the complex web of emotions, thoughts and principles that is the mind of ‘the greatest wizard since Merlin’, is not within the capability of your average fanfiction author to write. That said however, it pleases me to state, that this is one of the few pieces that does (get it right, that is).

    If slash is not your cup of tea, fret not, for as OP mentions there is little in the way of romance between the two characters. Rather, this is a tale of internal conflict and a maturing of the Albus Dumbledore we have not seen in canon (but presume must have happened behind the scenes in the books). The quality of the writing is evident, and is enough for me to want to wish the author to have written AD's perspective of all seven books, instead of an AU here - there can be no doubt the author has talent.

    This is not to say however, that the piece is flawless, as opined by a DLP member above. The fic starts off well, but by the middle starts to buckle under the weight of it's own story and has some glaring faults. Without spoiling anything, this one-shot suffers from serious character break, mediocre battle magic, jarring time-shifts and is compounded by an ambiguous ending. Normally I enjoy a good ambiguous ending, but in this case it does more harm than good and left me with a more-confused-than-anything feeling by the end of it.

    Thus, I am in a quandary- the first half of the piece truly merits a 5/5, whilst the rest is something I would give a 3 or perhaps 3.5. Since I cannot give parts of the story different ratings, overall I would give this an average of 4/5.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  5. Tenages

    Tenages Unspeakable DLP Supporter

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    A thought out and fair review, though I think you rate the second half of the story harsher than it deserves, but hey different tastes and all and you support your opinion well. One thing has me confused though. You describe the ending as ambiguous. Ending seemed clear as day to me. Not sure if I missed something, what about it did you find ambiguous.
    Seems to me the ending makes it very clear that everything that preceded it (parts i - vi) never happened, and are just what Dumbledore sees in the Mirror of Erised. The story ends with Albus's POV of the canon Mirror of Erised scene with Harry. The ending scene is fairly explicit about what's going on.

    "
    "It shows us what we want... whatever we want..."

    "Yes and no," says Albus. He clings to a lifetime of teaching and experience to prevent the pain from strangling his voice. "It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts."

    And to those gifted with a knack for enhancing magic, the ancient artefact can do so much more than showing an image. It can offer an entire alternative world of adventure and affection in place of death, sacrifice and a lifetime of loneliness."

    I.E. Albus is a genius and managed to enhance the Mirror so that instead of a picture, it shows a whole movie. The ending line that hammers home that same point.

    " Pointless most of all because whatever the boy may think, he hasn't lied to Harry Potter. He knows that, if he looked, he would still see socks in the Mirror of Erised – the socks, Gellert's gift, that has never been real."

    Seems fairly unambiguous to me. Then the author adds an AN at the end to make that even clearer. "Endnote: This fic very badly wanted to be titled "Erised, or Seven Things That Never Happened to Albus Dumbledore (and One That Did)", but that would've sort of given away things :(."

    What did you find an ambiguous about the ending. Interest what you're seeing there, and if I'm missing something.



    Incidentally I thought that what I perceived as the unambiguous nature of the ending actually strengthens and improves what would otherwise be the weaker latter parts of the story. I think it pretty much completely explains and justifies what character breaking exists, and to a lesser extent the battle magic issues. (I explain more in the spoiler below.)

    Dumbledore isn't necessarily in line with his perfectly in line with his canon characterization, in the middle - end, because it's not real, it's his fantasy. And in this fantasy, not only is history different, but so is Gellert's character (radically different) and Dumbledore's character (much less radically different.) The further into the fantasy we get (i.e the further it moves from actual history and into Dumbledore's most desperate imaginations), the more Dumbledore/Grindelwald's characters differ from what we know of canon. You could also argue it being a fantasy explains the subpar battle magic -- the fantasy requires Gellert to rescue him, so Dumbledore must therefore be worse at battle magic than in reality -- but I think it's more likely that the author was just not great at writing battle scenes.)

    I didn't find the timeshifts jarring at all personally, but YMMV.
     
  6. Elaphites

    Elaphites Muggle

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    Thank you for sharing this little gem. Well-written "what if" stories are quite rare, and this one is particularly interesting. I didn't find the end ambiguous at all either, but very satisfying instead. On a side note, the short comic mentioned by the author as the inspiration for the story is also worth a read!
     
  7. Agni

    Agni First Year

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    A rather enjoyable one-shot.

    It has got a strong start, easily drawing the reader into it. The voice of the protagonist is something I can easily imagine to be that of a young Dumbledore.

    Though the story gets somewhat weaker towards the end as already opined by the members above, it attempts to tie the loose ends nicely.
    I would rate it 3.5/5 rounded to 3. It would have easily been rounded to 4 had the battle scene been not so lame.